Fire district plans still taking shape

BELLAIRE The McMahon Valley Fire District may one day come to fruition, but a vote on funding for the district won’t be taking place this November.

The district is a planned joint venture between the Village of Bellaire and Pultney Township. Both communities are currently covered by the Neffs Fire Department. Areas of Pultney are also protected by the Spirit of 76 Volunteer Fire Department.

Bellaire Solicitor Joe Vavra told council that he’d received a copy of the Pultney Township Trustees potential ordinance, which Vavra noted was “very similar to the one I drafted with some minor differences.”

The eventual fire board will consist of five members; one from Bellaire council and one of the township trustees.

Those two members will then select one Bellaire and one township resident each to serve on the board. In turn, the now four-member board will make the fifth and final selection. That person can be a resident of either the village or the township.

Vavra noted the first two positions, ones for a member of council and a trustee, are three-year appointments while the other three will be for two years.

The minor differences will need to be ironed out before a joint resolution between the village and the township can be passed. Both have to agree on every detail.

The board will need to be in place, along with the official solicitor and fiscal clerks for the district. None of that can be done until the fire board is created via legislation.

Councilman Jim Piatt had noted at a previous meeting of Bellaire council that the levy to fund the fire district would likel fall in the 3-3.5 mill range. That number can’t be made official until a budget is submitted to Belmont County Auditor Andy Sutak.

Meetings were to be had, discussing the fire district and its options with residents within Bellaire village limits and throughout the townships.

Not wanting to rush all of that critical work into getting the district up and running, along with giving voting public proper time to meet and ask questions, the levy was taken off the November ballot.

For the time being, fire protection will continue as is, with Neffs and Spirit of 76 both operating within the township limits; Neffs in the village of Bellaire.

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